Thursday, June 23, 2016

Ron in Orlando, Florida - Trip Down Memory Lane (again)

Me on main street at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, Orlando, Florida, "The Happiest Place on Earth"

Hey folks, it's been a while since I've taken you on a trip down Memory Lane.  Well, here goes again. While looking through my thousands of photos for a particular photo that I wanted to post to my blog today I came across my photos for my trip in 2001 to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. 

The entrance to the Doubletree Hotel guest suites were we stayed - we each had our own rooms! I only share rooms with men - nothing personal Aunt Mabel

The recent tragic events at Orlando, Florida brought back memories of the first and only time I visited Orlando, Florida.

The really grand hotel where we stayed - like royalty!

Way back in the year 2000 I was awarded Best Guest Service Representative for my work at the Hampton Inn in Exton, Pennsylvania.  I didn't think I did anything extra ordinary but my boss felt that me coming in during Hurricane Floyd was worthy of note.  Oh how well I remember going to work during that hurricane, dodging downed live power lines that were dancing on the wind and rain soaked streets, encountering one flooded detour after another and almost narrowly missing getting my car flooded and floating down the street, only to arrive at the hotel that had no power. She put me in for the very prestigious award unbeknownst to me.  

The beautiful landscaping around the Doubletree Hotel where we stayed - egrets roamed around common as Philadelphia pigeons

A month later I was informed by phone from the vice president of the Hilton Hotel Corp that I was selected as one of their best guest service representatives.  My reward was an all expense paid four day trip to Disney World ("I'm going to Disney World!") in Orlando, Florida.  In addition to the all expense trip I received $500 and a plaque with my name on it as "Best Guest Service Representative" for the year 2000 (so long ago now isn't it?)  

The walkway around the Doubletree where we stayed - I LOVED IT!
Several things I remember about this trip.  First was that I had tickets for two but I couldn't find anyone to go with me.  Bill doesn't like to travel and none of my friends wanted to go with me.  Of course this was before I met my good friend Pat. He would have went with me! But this was many years before I met Pat so I searched around for someone to share that other ticket. The lucky recipient was my Aunt Mabel.  The wife of my Uncle Ed who was my father's older brother.  My Aunt Mabel was great company.  She always had a laugh and a smile and that deep southern accent she never lost (she was from the mountains of Virginia) as delight.  Of course sometimes she was hard to understand but her joy of life I always understood. And this was good for her because she couldn't make any more trips after this because of her health.  I am so glad that she had this last memory of a fabulous time in Disney World. 

My dear Aunt Mabel - always happy!

Another thing I remember was the two brothers who befriended me.  They were from Jordan.  The heavier brother managed Fess Parker's ("Davy Crockett! Davey Crockett" for those of you old enough to remember) in Santa Barbara, California. 

Unfortunately I don't remember their name but I do remember that they were both very Middle Eastern. And I remember very clearly the one brother who was the manager who was very friendly with me.  Perhaps too friendly but hey, I was by myself (my aunt stayed in her hotel room most of the time due to her physical limitations only came out for the evening functions the the luau at the hotel)

Aunt Mable at the luau

and the awards ceremony at the Epcot Center where I received my award along with other winners from across the United States.

Me receiving my award at the Epcot Center from the vice president of the Hilton Hotels

By the way, posting these pictures I am now filled with regret that I didn't have an iPhone back then when I could have taken videos! I'm veering off subject here again but could you imagine the photos and videos I would have now if I had an iPhone when I was growing up?  Literally millions! So maybe it's a good thing I didn't have one and only my Kodak camera with black and white photos, eight to a roll that took a week to process. Talk about ancient times.  But back to my adventure in Disney World.

Me and my Aunt Mable at the Epcot Center during the awards ceremony - I have to admit that the Hilton Hotel Corp treated us like royalty.  I LOVED IT!

So here I am "palling around" with two Middle Eastern types during my four day stay in Disney World.  This was in April 2001, six months before 9/11.  But you know folks, even back then I was a little bit uncomfortable with these guys.  The one guy (whose name I just cannot remember but it was a Muslim name like "Fareed" or something like that) was, as I said very friendly. His brother, not so much so.  But we made the rounds.  On the Merry-go-round. 

Me and "Fareed" on the Merry-go-round  in Disney World - 2000

Not a long line to get on that ride.

We took the river boat cruise to "Pirate's Island."  What I remember about that was how murky the water was and the only "pirates" we saw were mechanical, very fake looking.  

"Fareed" and his brother on the Pirate's river boat ride - we didn't see any crocodiles - wait!  Yes, we did see one!
I thought at least they could have Johnny Depp, aka "Capt. Jack Sparrow", make an appearance.  HA! Dream on Ron.

Me on the "Pirates" cruise - I still have that T-shirt and pants - hat is long gone - looking at these pictures I do get around don't I for someone who hasn't traveled much during his lifetime

We also did the roller coaster ride through the mountain thing.  That was sort of interesting being jerked around in total darkness (get you mind out of the gutter). 

Did we meet Mickey?  You bet!  But I didn't meet Goofy, who is my favorite Disney character.  

Me, Mickey Mouse and Aunt Mable - we made it!

Another thing I remember clearly was how humid it was during our stay.  I couldn't live in a climate like that all the time folks, just couldn't do it.

But all in all it was a wonderful trip.  Disney World was everything it is hyped up to be.  One thing that amazed me but probably should have, was the diversity of the folks who throng the streets of the Magic Kingdom.

A typical day on Main Street in Disney World. hardly any elbow room
So many people from different countries.  I heard a report that the Orlando gunman had originally targeted Disney World for his murderous carnage spree but decided against it because security was too tight. Can you imagine? Thank God that didn't happen.

I probably will never go back to Disney World again but I am so thankful that my manager was appreciative of my efforts at the hotel she managed.  She will always be a gem in my mind.  I don't know where she is now but her name was Beth Mancini and I wish her and her family nothing but the best. Maybe she'll read this blog posting and know how thankful I am.

The Hampton Inn Team, Exton, PA 2001 (I'm standing to the right of Beth Mancini)
I worked at the Hampton Inn for almost four years.  I left a few months after 9/11 due to a dispute with the new assistant manager, the details of which I will not go into at this time.  

Beth Mancini at her desk - one of the best bosses I ever had!
Even though I left under unpleasant circumstances I will always have fond memories of my time at the Hampton Inn and working for Beth, my co-workers (except for that one person) and the guests.
Linda West (sales director), one of the owners of the Hampton Inn and Beth Mancini 2001 - great people!

Working for a hotel is and has always been fascinating, though at times frustrating.

To this day I still work as a guest service represent (or "agent" as we call the front desk clerk now, all so politically correct don't  you know).  I won't be winning any trips to Disney World these days folks but you know what?  Every day is like a vacation day to me now, every day.  

Maybe someday in the future, when I'm wasting away in an assisted care facility (God, I hope not) or as a lonely old man, I will remember these days as the Glory Days.  You never know.  But I will never forget that trip to Disney World in Orlando Florida during that magical time pre 9/11. 

I always manage to find a "passive friend" whenever I'm on one of my adventures


pat888 said...

Ron - what a happy post. You look terrific and so does everyone else in the pictures. Even the mid east brothers. But the staff photos surely present a friendly face of your work place and experience there. Glad you got to Disney World too. And belated congrats. Of all the many employees and you were the one picked. That's quite a feather. And tho that was some time ago - here you are diligently doing service to guests in Lewes.


Jimmy said...

Local news reported tonight that the mass murderer was buried in Miami (40 miles south of me). Earlier today on MSNBC, they said he was buried in north west US. Go figure, eh? Yes, it is VERY humid here in the summer AND hot. I've only been to Disney World once. That was in 1974 when it first opened. Congratulations on your award (belated). You are very photogenic.

Jon said...

A fascinating trip down Memory Lane, Ron, and the photos are wonderful. The year 2000 doesn't really seem that long ago..... I've never been to Disney World but I've heard that it's much more impressive than the original Disneyland in Anaheim.

You mentioned that your favorite Disney character is Goofy, which reminded me of an incident that happened at Disneyland when I lived in Calif. One of the guys who played the Goofy character was fired for hitting a bratty child. The kid kept getting on Goofy's nerves and he finally whacked the kid in the face.
I always thought that was hysterically funny. They should have given Goofy an award!

Ur-spo said...

oh i enjoyed this!

Unknown said...

Love this post Ron!! So many rich memories and fun times. I LOVE Disney World!! I've been 4 times. The last two times were with an ex boyfriend. We had such a great time!!

Ron said...

I was very lucky to win a trip to Disney World. The phrase "I'm going to Disney World" was (and is) the ultimate prize for a winner of sporting events like the Super Bowl. I truly enjoyed my experience at Disney World. My only regret was that I couldn't find a friend to take the trip with me. Maybe now I would. But back then no takers.

Ron said...

Thank you for your generous compliments! I never in a million years thought I would go to Disney World but it happened. I was very lucky.

Ron said...

I remember that incident with the Goofy character. I have to admit I smiled when I read that account. Kids sometimes do get on my nerves and I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the kid who got on Goofy's nerves deserved Goofy's slap down. Fortunately for me the kids who check in the hotel where I work are always well behaved. No "Goofy" incidents at our hotel.

Ron said...

Thank you Dr. Spo. As I mentioned in a previous comment my only regret was that I couldn't get a friend to go with me. My award was a trip for two and I couldn't find anyone to go with me. I almost had to give up that other trip. Wish I would have known you then, maybe you would have gone with me!

Ron said...

I would love to visit Disney World with a friend. My aunt was nice and she appreciated the trip but was physically limited. She stayed in her hotel room the whole time, only coming out for the meals and the awards function. I'm trying to talk Pat into going with me to Disneyland in Anaheim, California. So far he's been resistant. I'm working on him.

Anonymous said...

with your extensive library of pictures I can only imagine if you had an iPhone thru the years.